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On the manner of collection and expenditure.
IT hath been our error, as well as our misfortune, to blend the affairs of each state, especially in money matters, with those of the United States; whereas it is to our case, convenience and interest to keep them separate. The expenses of the United States for carrying on the war, and the expenses of each state for its own domestic government, are distinct things, and to involve them is a source of perplexity and a cloak for fraud. I love method, because I see and am convinced of its beauty and advantage. It is that which makes all business easy and understood, and without which every thing becomes embarrassed and difficult.
There are certain powers which the people of each state have delegated to their legislative and executive bodies, and there are other powers which the people of every state have delegated to congress, among which is that of conducting the war, and, consequently, of managing the expenses attending it; for how else can that be managed, which concerns every state, but by a delegation from each. When a state has furnished its quota, it has an undoubted right to know how it has been applied, and it is as much the duty of congress to inform the state of the one, as it is the duty of the state to provide the other.
In the resolution of congress already recited, it is recommended to the several states to lay taxes for raising their quotas of money for the United States, separate from those laid for their own particular use.
This is a most necessary point to be observed, and the distinction should follow all the way through. They should be levied, paid and collected separately, and kept separate in every instance. Neither have the civil officers of any state, or the government of that state, the least right to touch that money which the people pay for the support of their army and the war, any more than congress has to touch that which each state raises for its own use.
This distinction will naturally be followed by another. It will occasion every state to examine nicely into the expenses of its civil list, and to regulate, reduce and bring it into better order than it has hitherto been; because the moncy for that purpose must be raised apart, and accounted for to the public separately. But while the monies of
both were blended, the necessary nicety was not observed, and the poor soldier, who ought to have been the first, was the last who was thought of.
Another convenience will be, that the people, by paying the taxes separately, will know what they are for; and will likewise know that those which are for the defence of the country will cease with the war, or soon after. For although, as I have before observed, the war is their own, and for the support of their own rights and the protection of their own property, yet they have the same right to know, that they have to pay, and it is the want of not knowing that is often the cause of dissatisfaction.
This regulation of keeping the taxes separate has given rise to a regulation in the office of finance, by which it is directed,
"That the receivers shall, at the end of every month, make out an exact account of the monies received by them respectively, during such month, specifying therein the names of the persons from whom the same shall have been received, the dates and the sums; which account they shall respectively cause to be published in one of the newspapers of the state; to the end that every citizen may know how much of the monies collected from him, in taxes, is transmitted to the treasury of the United States for the support of the war; and also, that it may be known what monies have been at the order of the superintendant of finance. It being proper and necessary, that in a free country the people should be as fully informed of the administration of their affairs as the nature of things will admit."
It is an agreeable thing to see a spirit of order and economy taking place, after such a series of errors and difficulties. A government or an administration, who means and acts honestly, has nothing to fear, and consequently has nothing to conceal; and it would be of use if a monthly or quarterly account was to be published, as well of the expenditures as of the receipts. Eight millions of dollars must be husbanded with an exceeding deal of care to make it do, and therefore, as the management must be reputable, the publication would be serviceable.
I have heard of petitions which have been presented to the assembly of this state (and probably the same may have happened in other states) praying to have the taxes lowered. Now the only way to keep taxes low is, for the United States to have ready money to go to market with;
and though the taxes to be raised for the present year will fall heavy, and there will naturally be some difficulty in paying them, yet the difficulty, in proportion as money spreads about the country, will every day grow less, and in the end we shall save some millions of dollars by it. We see what a bitter, revengeful enemy we have to deal with, and any expense is cheap compared to their merciless paw. We have seen the unfortunate Carolineans hunted like patridges on the mountains, and it is only by providing means for our defence that we shall be kept from the same condition. When we think or talk about taxes, we ought to recollect that we lie down in peace, and sleep in safety; that we can follow our farms or stores, or other occupations, in prosperous tranquillity; and that these inestimable blessings are procured to us by the taxes that we pay. In this view, our taxes are properly our insurance money; they are what we pay to be made safe, and in strict policy are the best money we can lay out.
It was my intention to offer some remarks on the impost law of five per cent. recommended by congress, and to be established as a fund for the payment of the loan-office certificates and other debts of the United States; but I have already extended my piece beyond my intention. And as this fund will make our system of finance complete, and is strictly just, and consequently requires nothing but honesty to do it, there needs but little to be said upon it. COMMON SENSE.
Philadelphia, March 5, 1782.
ON THE PRESENT STATE OF NEWS.
SINCE the arrival of two, if not three packets, in quick succession, at New-York, from England, a variety of unconnected news has circulated through the country, and afforded as great a variety of speculation.
That something is the matter in the cabinet and councils of our enemies, on the other side of the water, is certainthat they have run their length of madness, and are under the necessity of changing their measures may easily be seen into; but to what this change of measures may amount, or how far it may correspond with our interest, happiness and duty, is yet uncertain; and from what we have hitherto experienced, we have too much reason to suspect them in every thing.
I do not address this publication so much to the people of America as to the British ministry, whoever they may be, for if it is their intention to promote any kind of negotiation, it is proper they should know beforehand, that the United States have as much honor as bravery; and that they are no more to be seduced from their alliance than their allegiance; that their line of politics is formed, and not dependant, like that of their enemy, on chance and accident.
On our part, in order to know, at any time, what the British government will do, we have only to find out what they ought not to do, and this last will be their conduct. Forever changing and forever wrong; too distant from America to improve circumstances, and too unwise to foresee them; scheming without principle, and executing without probability, their whole line of management has hitherto
been blunder and baseness. Every campaign has added to their loss, and every year to their disgrace; till unable to go on, and ashamed to go back, their politics have come to a halt, and all their fine prospects to a halter.
Could our affections forgive, or humanity forget, the wounds of an injured country-we might, under the influence of a momentary oblivion, stand still and laugh. But they are engraven where no amusement can conceal them, and of a kind for which there is no recompence. Can ye restore to us the beloved dead? Can ye say to the grave, give up the murdered? Can ye obliterate from our memories those who are no more? Think not then to tamper with our feelings by insidious contrivance, nor suffocate our humanity by seducing us to dishonor.
In March 1780, 1 published part of the Crisis, No. VIII. in the newspapers, but did not conclude it in the following papers, and the remainder has lain by me till the present day.
There appeared about that time some disposition in the British cabinet to cease the further prosecution of the war, and as I had formed my opinion, that whenever such a design should take place, it would be accompanied with a dishonorable proposition to America, respecting France, I had suppressed the remainder of that number, not to expose the baseness of any such proposition. But the arrival of the next news from England, declared her determination to go on with the war, and consequently as the political object I had then in view was not become a subject, it was unnecessary in me to bring it forward, which is the reason it was never published.
The matter which I allude to in the unpublished part, I shall now make a quotation of, and apply it as the more enlarged state of things, at this day, shall make convenient
It was as follows:
"By the speeches which have appeared from the British parliament, it is easy to perceive to what impolitic and imprudent excesses their passions and prejudices have, in every instance, carried them, during the present war. Provoked at the upright and honorable treaty between America and France, they imagined that nothing more was necessary to be done to prevent its final ratification, than to promise, through the agency of their commissioners (Carlisle, Eden and Johnston) a repeal of their once